Cheapest Ways to Take Card Payments in 2024

Customer paying on a portable card machine

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Card payments now account for 90% of all retail spending, which has led to UK retailers collectively spending £1.2 billion on card processing fees each year, the British Retail Consortium says.

But don’t fret. There are cheap ways to take payments out there, and it is possible to find affordable options that don’t compromise on quality. The best card machine providers come with low transaction and account fees, whilst still giving you the functionality you need to run your business, so you can minimise monthly overheads and focus on profits.

According to our research, Tyl, Revolut, Zettle, and takepayments provide the cheapest way to take card payments. Here’s why:

What are the cheapest ways to take card payments?

  1. Tyl – Cheapest 4G plans
  2. Revolut – Cheapest fixed transaction fees
  3. Zettle – Cheap card machines
  4. takepayments – Custom pricing packages

Click on any of the the links above to use our free cost comparison tool, and find the best deal for your business to avoid overspending.

The cheapest merchant services for taking card payments

These are our top four picks for cheap merchant service providers:

Swipe right to see more
0 out of 0
Monthly Fee
Monthly Fee


Monthly Fee


Monthly Fee


Monthly Fee

From £20 + VAT

Hardware Cost

From £89

Hardware Cost

From £9.99/month

Hardware Cost

£49 + VAT (one-off fee)

Hardware Cost

From £29 + VAT

Hardware Cost

From £25 + VAT/month

Transaction fee
  • 1.5%
Transaction fee
  • 1.39% + 5p UK and European personal cards
  • 1.99% + 5p international and commercial cards
  • Variable for Amex
Transaction fee
  • 0.8% + 2p in-person UK cards
  • 2.6% + 2p in-person non-UK cards
  • 1% + 2p online UK cards
  • 2.8% + 2p online non-UK cards
Transaction fee
  • 1.75% in-person
  • 2.5% payment links and invoicing
Transaction fee
  • Bespoke in-person
  • 10p online
Online payment gateway

Not available

Online payment gateway

£14.95 + VAT/month

Online payment gateway


Online payment gateway


Online payment gateway

Up to £19 + VAT/month

Virtual terminal

Not available

Virtual terminal

Included with online payment gateway

Virtual terminal

Not available

Virtual terminal

Not available

Virtual terminal

Included with online payment gateway

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Prices correct as of June 2024

1. Tyl – Cheapest 4G plans

tyl logo
Fees Bespoke-1.39% + 5p

Three card readers with 3G/4G connectivity

Cheap card machines

Next-day payouts


Limited reporting tools with most readers

No multi-currency support

Limited integrations

Transaction fees 1.39% + 5p, or bespoke; variable for Amex
Account fees None
Card machine prices £9.99 + VAT/month; £13.99 + VAT/month; £16.99 + VAT/month; £19.99 + VAT/month
Payment gateway prices £14.95 + VAT/month
Virtual terminal prices £14.95 + VAT/month (included in payment gateway package)

What makes it a cheap way to take payments?

Tyl has no monthly account fees, and offers some great value card machines with 4G connectivity.

It offers four card machines in total, with two that come with 4G connectivity. The cheapest 4G machine costs £9.99 + VAT per month, much cheaper than what competitors charge. For comparison, takepayments only provides one 4G card reader, starting at £25 + VAT per month, and 4G with Zettle only comes with its £149 Zettle Terminal.

Tyl is also extremely clear about its pricing, which is a plus for businesses looking to avoid hidden fees, with its 1.39% +5p transaction fee applying to in-person, online, and phone payments. The only uncertainty is what you’ll pay if you decide to accept Amex, whose rates vary. A 1.39% + 5p transaction fee is relatively inexpensive as fixed fees go. Revolut does have lower fees than Tyl, at 0.8% +2p, but, it doesn’t have 4G card machines.

screenshot of Tyl by Natwest card machines from Tyl website
Tyl offers a variety of card machines, from its affordable mobile 4G one, to traditional countertop devices. Source: Tyl by Natwest

Who’ll get the most value for money with Tyl?

Vendors who sell on-the-go, such as food truck operators or market sellers will get the most value out of Tyl if they choose its £9.99 + VAT 4G card machine.

Its £16.99 + VAT per month EPOS machine and card machine combo is a decently priced offering for businesses with a slightly more complex inventory, such as cafes or small stores, since it comes with features like employee and inventory management. However, if you want similar features and want to avoid paying recurring rental fees, you could just get Zettle’s equivalent, the Zettle Payment Terminal, for a one-off £149 fee.

However, Tyl’s lack of multi-currency support on any of its card readers makes it a no-go if you have international customers. Its sparse number of software integrations also make it a poor choice for businesses that plan on syncing up a large suite of tools. Revolut, Zettle, and takepayments all give you access to more ready-made integrations, from accounting to ecommerce.

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2. Revolut – Cheapest fixed transaction fees

Revolut Logo
Fees 0.8% + 2p-2.8% + 2p

Cheap transaction fees

Multi-currency support

Keeps you PCI compliant


No fraud prevention

Limited reporting tools

Only offers one card reader model

Transaction fees 0.8% + 2p in-person UK cards; 2.6% + 2p in-person non-UK cards; 1% + 2p online UK cards; 2.8% + 2p online non-UK cards
Account fees None
Card machine prices £49
Payment gateway prices £0
Virtual terminal prices Does not offer virtual terminal

What makes it a cheap way to take payments?

Revolut offers the cheapest fixed transaction fees of any zero-contract provider we researched, at 0.8% + 2p for in-person payments made with a UK card. That’s less than Zettle’s 1.75% fee and Tyl’s 1.39% + 5p fee.

Additionally, Revolut comes with no monthly fees and doesn’t charge you anything to sell online with its payment gateway. Tyl and takepayments on the other hand charge businesses £14.95 + VAT per month and up to £19+ VAT per month for you to sell online.

It charges a one-off £49 + VAT fee for its card reader, which is more expensive than Zettle’s £29 + VAT card reader. However, since you’ll own the reader outright, you won’t have recurring monthly fees as you would with Tyl and takepayments.

Plus, since Revolut is first and foremost a financial services provider, your business bank account, merchant account, and payment processor will all be managed by the same provider, which can make taking payments much easier.

However, it’s the only provider on our list that doesn’t have fraud protection, so you’ll be benefitting from cheap fees at your own risk.

▶ Don’t have a merchant account yet or looking to switch?: You might find our merchant account comparison guide useful.

Who’ll get the most value for money with Revolut?

Revolut’s all-in-one, no-strings-attached structure makes it a convenient cheap option if you’re just starting to take card payments and want an affordable starter service. It’s best suited to independent stores or boutiques, online resellers who do in-person pop-ups, or other sole traders.

Revolut is a bank that also specialises in making international transactions easier and cheaper, and you’ll be able to accept payments in over 30 currencies with them. If you have a few international customers that travel to buy your products, this could be handy.

However, if you process a large number of transactions per month, takepayments would be better suited to you. It has flexible and bespoke pricing, and you’ll find you can negotiate lower prices as your needs and sales increase.

Revolut also doesn’t have a big range of hardware – it only sells the one reader –, and has limited reporting tools, another reason why it’s best for small sellers and not businesses with multiple employees and a complex inventory.

Taking payments from non-UK cards?

If your business operates internationally, it’s a good idea to read the fine print of the providers’ conversion rates. While all of the merchant account companies featured here accept multi-currencies (apart from Tyl), they might charge you extra fees depending on the currency you’re paid in.

3. Zettle – Cheap card machines

zettle logo
Fees 1.75%-2.5%

Cheap card reader

No monthly fees

Good customer support


High transaction fees

Some users find it hard to integrate third-party software such as Quickbooks

Card reader with mobile data is expensive

Transaction fees 1.75% in person; 2.5% payment links and invoicing
Account fees None
Card machine prices £29 + VAT; £149 + VAT
Payment gateway prices £0
Virtual terminal prices Does not offer virtual terminal
zettle card reader 2 on top of desk
This Zettle Card Reader 2 is ready for action at Batch1 in Green Lane, South East London. Source: Expert Market

What makes it a cheap way to take payments?

Zettle’s card machine, which you can buy outright, costs just £29 + VAT outright, making it one of the cheapest on the market.By comparison,  Revolut’s card reader costs £49 + VAT.

Zettle, like Revolut, also doesn’t charge monthly account fees, but where it has the upper hand is with its free EPOS system, the Zettle POS app, which you get access to when you sign up.

Its reporting features include analytics, sales forecasting, inventory management, and staff hours management, all of which are rare offerings for a no-contract, fixed-rate provider.

However, if you want a combined mini EPOS terminal and 4G connected card machine, you’ll have to pay £149 for the Zettle Terminal, which is pretty steep. It is cheaper in the long run than renting the equivalent from takepayments for around £25 per month, but you’ll be paying more in transaction fees with Zettle, which charges 1.75% per transaction.

On the upside, like Revolut, Zettle offers a free online payment gateway, so you won’t get the same monthly fees you’d have with takepayments or Tyl for selling online.

Who’ll get the most value for money with Zettle?

Zettle is a decent value for money option for any small business that wants to avoid monthly fees and long-term contracts, since Zettle has none. It’s a good alternative to a traditional payment provider like takepayments, since it has a similar offering without the monthly overheads.

For example, like takepayments, Zettle offers good customer support. While it’s only available during weekdays, customers have the option to contact Zettle via phone, email, or live chat. This puts it in a better position than Revolut and Tyl, both of which lack an email support channel.

However, since Zettle’s transaction fees are quite high, if you have a high transaction volume, it might be cheaper to go with a bespoke provider like takepayments.

Additionally, despite offering over 21 third-party integrations, many customers have complained that these don’t always work smoothly with Zettle’s POS app, especially accounting software such as Quickbooks. This means you might not really be getting quite what you’re paying for.

Confused by all this terminology?

Find out more about the differences between merchant accounts, payment gateways and payment processors in our guide to taking payments.

4. takepayments – Custom pricing packages

takepayments logo featured image
Transaction fees Bespoke

Cheap transaction fees

Comprehensive reporting tools

Supports 170 currencies


Not transparent with pricing

No invoicing tool

Lengthy PCI compliance process

Transaction fees Variable in person; 10p online
Account fees From £20 + VAT/month
Card machine prices From £25 + VAT/month
Payment gateway prices Up to £19 + VAT/month
Virtual terminal prices Up to £19 + VAT/month (included in payment gateway package)

What makes it a cheap way to take payments?

takepayments has custom monthly fees and transaction fees, which means you’ll be able to negotiate a price point that works for you. If you process a lot of card transactions a month (over £2,000), this means you could end up with transaction fees as low as 0.3%, but this isn’t guaranteed.

However, takepayments does charge a round a £20 monthly fee, and fees of around £25 per month for renting out its card machines. This is more expensive than Tyl’s offering, whose cheapest card machine is £9.99 + VAT per month.

We do think this is worth it for businesses that need a wide range of payment features, since takepayments’ platform includes real-time card processing, cash tracking, product customisation, real-time inventory and employee sales tracking, accounting, and detailed receipt generation. This is a level of functionality that isn’t offered by the other payment providers on this list.

Who’ll get the most value for money with takepayments?

takepayments offers good value for money for established small businesses that process a lot of card transactions per month, such as restaurants, salons, or sit-in bakeries/cafes. These types of businesses are the most likely to get cheap transaction fees with takepayments.

It offers an almost complete set of tools, including an online payment gateway and virtual terminal for up to £19 per month, however, it is lacking an invoicing tool, which you can get with any of the competitors on this list.

Its high monthly fees do mean that it’s not suitable for businesses with a small monthly turnover (under £2,000 per month), and its opaque pricing and lengthy PCI compliance (you could potentially be going through 300 self-assessment questions) means it’s not a good option for those wanting a quick setup. Zettle is a good alternative if that’s you.

Buying guide: How to choose a cheap payment service provider

Here’s what to consider while choosing a payment service provider:

Transaction fees

Some payment service providers, such as Revolut and Zettle, offer flat rate, or fixed, transaction fees. This means you pay the same fee every time you process a card.

Others offer variable rates, where the fee changes depending on the type of card the customer is using, and these are often presented as negotiable transaction fees. What you’re actually negotiating is the cut your payment provider takes from a transaction, as card network fees (from providers like Visa and Mastercard) are determined by the card network itself.

Variable rates offer better value for money if you process a lot of card payments, while flat rates work better for small businesses with lower sales volumes.

You can read more about card processing fees in our in-depth guide.

Payment system prices

It’s also important to look at what type of payment system a provider offers (such as card machines, EPOS apps, payment gateways, and virtual terminals) and how much they cost.

Make sure you’re not paying for anything you don’t use. For example, if you don’t take online payments, don’t go with a provider that includes and charges you for a payment gateway on its monthly plan regardless of whether you need it or not. However, if it’s included free of charge, with a provider like Zettle, it could be a useful addition if you plan on selling online in the future.

Some providers operate on monthly fees, like a subscription, while others accept one-time purchases for payment systems such as credit card machines. Which pricing model you choose to go with depends on your business.

Monthly subscriptions tend to work out cheaper for businesses that process a lot of card payments, since they’re often paired with cheap transaction fees. One-time purchase models work best for businesses that have a low monthly transaction volume and sell online, since providers that offer them typically also have free, or very cheap payment gateway services.

Contract length

It’s important to think ahead before getting into a long-term contract with a payment service provider, since many providers, including takepayments, will charge you for terminating your contract early.

Most providers that operate on a subscription model offer contracts between six and 18 months, while providers that allow you to purchase card machines outright typically don’t lock you into a contract.

If your business has irregular sales patterns or goes through ups and downs, it’s probably better to go with a no-contract provider.

Fund transfer time

If your business relies on a quick flow of funds, you’ll want to choose a payment services provider that transfers funds in one to two business days. Some can even offer instant access to funds, although this typically comes with an added fee.

The slowest transfer time we’ve seen is Stripe’s full week, but one to three business days is the industry standard.

Ready-made software integrations

If you’re planning on growing your business, or already have software that you use – accounting software, for example – make sure the payment provider you choose can integrate with it.

Some providers, such as Zettle, Revolut, and takepayments, can integrate with over 15 different software platforms, while others are more limited.

PCI compliance and fraud prevention measures

It’s important to choose a provider that’s PCI compliant and has fraud prevention measures that will protect both your business and your customers’ sensitive data.

Some providers will charge a fee for you to stay PCI compliant, while others include it as part of their service. Some also require you to become PCI compliant by completing a self-assessment form, with varying levels of support.

It’s not a legal requirement in the UK, but all card networks require it, and can fine your bank if you don’t comply. That fine usually then gets passed on to you, so it’s best to stay vigilant.

Reporting tools

Providers that operate on a monthly subscription model, such as takepayments, tend to come with a wider breadth of reporting tools. These types of providers work well for businesses that have several employees, or multiple locations they sell at.

One-time payment providers typically have more limited tools, and are better for very small operations, consisting of one or two people. There are some exceptions, however, such as Zettle, whose free EPOS app includes advanced features such as inventory tracking and staff management.

Think about what tools your business needs, or will need, before choosing a provider.

Ease of setup and implementation

Ease of use is important, especially if your business is just starting out.

Unfortunately, the more in-depth a provider’s sales and management features become, the less user-friendly it tends to be. But if your business requires advanced functions, you’re probably more experienced with card payments, so this won’t be an issue.

The most user-friendly payment service providers give you one app where you can track transactions and revenue, but they might feel limited as your business grows.

Help and support

In an ideal scenario, you shouldn’t have any issues with your payment provider’s services. But things do inevitably go wrong sometimes, so the level of support provided by each provider should be front and centre of your decision-making process.

Ideally, the provider should have a support number you can call. It’s also worth looking at the support team’s opening hours. If your business is most active on the weekends, it’s a good idea to go with a provider whose customer service team is open on those days.

Our verdict and your next steps

The cheapest merchant service providers we’ve found are Tyl, for inexpensive 4G card machine rental plans, Revolut for cheap transaction fees, and Zettle for its cheap card reader .

When choosing a cheap payment service provider, it’s important to remember that providers are generally geared towards certain types of businesses.

Zero-contract, fixed-rate providers work best for new businesses or ones with a low monthly turnover, while providers with bespoke pricing and contracts are best for established businesses with high sales.

Want to get a more personalised recommendation? We’ve built a free quote-matching tool to help. Simply answer a few questions about what you need, and behind the scenes, we’ll match you up with merchant service providers that suit your requirements.

How We Test Merchant Account Products and Services for UK Businesses

We tested 11 market-leading payment products and services, evaluating them in terms of functionality, usability, regulatory compliance, customer support, and more in order to make the most useful recommendations to UK businesses.

Our rigorous testing process means these products have been scored and rated in six main categories of investigation and 25 subcategories. We then gave each category score a ‘relevance weighting’ to ensure the product’s final score perfectly reflects the needs and requirements of Expert Market readers.

Our main testing categories for payment products and services are:

Compliance: adherence to relevant regulations and standards, such as data security, anti-fraud measures, and legal requirements.

Customer Support: the assistance and resources provided to users in resolving issues, answering questions, and providing guidance.

Customer Score: external customer opinion; the feedback and ratings given by customers who have used a particular provider – the market position and reputation it holds.

Features: the functionalities and capabilities provided. This can include online payment processing, payment gateway integration, and fraud prevention.

Taking Payments: the process and options available for accepting payments through the provider.

Price: the cost associated with using the provider, including transaction fees, setup fees, monthly fees, and any additional charges.

Cheapest ways to take payments FAQs

Can I accept card payments without paying a fee?
The only way to accept payments without a fee is to be paid in cash while using an offline cash register. The minute you start using an informational system to take payments (as in all card transactions), the provider of the system will charge you fees.
Can I charge my customers for paying by card?
You cannot charge for taking card payments when a consumer or personal card is used, as this was banned in 2018 in the UK. However, you can still apply a surcharge on transactions made with business or corporate cards.

Our site is reader-supported. Some featured providers are our partners, so we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through our site. This is at no extra cost to our readers, and this doesn’t affect the independence of our reviews. Whether or not we have a partnership with a company does not affect our rating and review of the service.

Written by:
Lucas Pistilli author headshot photo
Lucas is a Brazilian-born journalist and Expert Market’s go-to writer for all things EPOS systems, merchant accounts, and franking machines. Having covered business, politics and technology for many years, he’s driven by his passion for the written word and his goal to help people make well-informed decisions.
Reviewed by:
Headshot of Expert Market Senior Writer Tatiana Lebtreton
Tatiana is Expert Market's resident payments and online growth expert, specialising in (E)POS and merchant accounts, as well as website builders.